A Passover Meal Liturgy
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day of Holy Week which commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper. The Catholic church and some high church denominations celebrate the day with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper or a similar service, but I couldn’t find an equivalent common in Protestantism. I did read about increasing interest among Protestants to celebrate the day with a Christian Seder, or more accurately a Messianic Passover Seder. However some Jews consider this cultural appropriation and offensive. There are arguments against some of these claims, but it is clear that Passover Seders are uniquely Jewish in that they were developed after Christianity branched from Judaism. Jesus would have been unfamiliar with the traditions that Jews today follow during the meal since the Seder Haggadah was developed later in history.
I originally planned to lead my small group in a Seder before realizing this. So my goal then became to find a culturally sensitive and historically accurate way to commemorate the Last Supper, which was in fact a Passover meal, just not a Seder. Not finding much online, I decided to create my own liturgy. It follows the order that Jesus presumably followed with his disciples. In addition to the retelling of the Exodus which would have been standard, Jesus added the washing of feet and the first communion to his meal. So that is pretty much all the liturgy consists of, and it includes a lot of readings that highlight connections between the Old and New Testaments. I wanted to share this as an alternative to a Christian Seder. PDF here:
The food was interesting. Without a Seder Plate there were no real requirements aside from the communion elements, matzo (unleavened bread) and grape juice. We know what was probably eaten at the Last Supper. With limited cooking time I kept the meal very simple. Just matzo ball soup (recipe) and vegan lamb (recipe). (Matzo ball soup would not have been at the Last Supper, it’s a more modern Jewish meal.) The vegan lamb is justified in the liturgy, but honestly the food is not relevant to the rest of the night, which makes this liturgy inherently very different from a Seder and its Seder plate. The main course could be anything.
I looked at a few Messianic Haggadahs, and took some of the alternating OT/NT Exodus passages from this one called A Traditional Messianic Seder.